31 March 2011

This Meatless Week: March 31, 2011

Wellness Form offers a class Monday that seeks to help tofu-phobes overcome their fear of bean curd. Or, for those who don't fear tofu, it will also cover the types of commercially available tofu and share a couple of recipes. The class runs from 6-8 p.m.

In the department of vegan diversions during Gallery Hop, Rad Dog is slinging dogs at the Paradise Garage three year anniversary party. As the weather warms up, carts like Rad Dog will be out full time. Here's a chance to catch it early.

29 March 2011

Lashish the Greek

Lashish the Greek is a bustling little Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurant on Bethel Road. It adds another layer of international flair to a strip mall that already has Indian, Vietnamese and Korean storefronts.

The proprietor of the restaurant is a affable host that does a great job with vegetarian and vegan diners. Although seating is limited, the kitchen keeps a busy pace that doesn't keep patrons waiting long.

The menu at Lashish is awash in freshly prepared Greek and Middle Eastern classics like hummus, baba ghanoush, spanakopita, stuffed grape leaves, Greek salad, tabbouleh and falafel. The pastry/dessert case looks absolutely divine.

The lentil vegetable soup had chunks of carrots, potatoes and celery in a mild broth with soft brown lentils. The soup is a delightful hybrid of vegetable soup and veggie chili with a Mediterranean flair.

The spanakopita displayed an artful talent for the phyllo dough arts. The perfectly constructed pie was light with a faint crispiness and a burst of flavor. The spinach filling highlights the best flavors in the leafy green. The spinach pie at Lashish the Greek beats the tar out of the frozen garbage served at less reputable Greek restaurants.

The baba ghanoush was smoky with faint hints of garlic and citrus. The soft, puffy pita bread was appropriately allocated to scoop up all of the eggplant dip.

Lashish the Greek has three different falafel sandwiches. There is a standard falafel sandwich with tahini, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles. The Greek vegetarian pita has falafel, banana peppers, kalamata olives, cucumber, onions and lettuce in tzatziki sauce. The Mediterranean vegetarian pita is slathered in hummus and stuffed with falafel, fried cauliflower, eggplant and potatoes in an herbed sauce.

The falafel has a hint of spiciness, and it had a pleasant green-colored interior. The pitas are stuffed to capacity.

Lashish the Greek is a great experience. The combination of friendly service and reasonable prices should make it a destination for vegetarians.

Lashish the Greek

Lashish the Greek on Urbanspoon

26 March 2011

Lalibela Restaurant

Lalibela is an Ethiopian restaurant near Whitehall. The restaurant is tucked unassumingly into a strip mall, and the dining room is also squeezed between a large bar in front of the storefront and a performing arts space in the back.

I first heard about Lalibela from Alt.Eats.Columbus. It also recently hosted a Columbus Vegan Group meetup.

The menu has five vegetarian entrees. There are also salads. Both salads are prepared with hard boiled eggs, which can be held upon request.

My favorite menu option is the vegetarian sampler. It is five items served on an injera bread foundation with additional injera spools to scoop up food.

The veggie combo had sauteed collard greens, spicy red lentils, a yellow pea dish, a hot cabbage dish and a cold salad. The flavor of the lentils carried onion and garlic notes that were followed by a sneaky spiciness. The yellow peas had a sweet yet starchy character. The injera was a plentiful tool that allows for eating with your hands. Each of the parts of the combo platter is available as an individual dish.

Prices at Lalibela are very inexpensive, and portions are large. There is a full bar. Service was a relaxed and able to deal with vegetarian and vegan dining requests.


Lalibela Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon

22 March 2011

Curry and Hurry

Curry and Hurry is the latest Indian restaurant to open in the space that housed Curry and Kabab on the north end of campus just south of Clintonville. The focus is North Indian takeout that comes out rapidly for diners in a hurry, befitting the name Curry and Hurry.

There are plenty of vegetarian items on the menu at Curry and Hurry, as one would expect at an Indian restaurant. There is no dining room, so orders must be eaten off site.

The menu at Curry and Hurry is strikingly similar to the aforementioned Curry and Kabab. The web site also lists a vegetarian menu which I didn't see.

The weakest characteristic of the items I tried at Curry and Hurry was that the fried items were a little on the greasy side. This was the most obvious flaw, and this was offset for the most part by quick service and flavorful preparations of Indian classics.

The paneer pakoras, thickly breaded fingers of Indian cheese, were a tasty expression of this mild staple. The cilantro chutney added a fresh bite to the pakoras, which were so hot that they were almost molten (although like halloumi, paneer will not melt).

The samosas were large, stuffed with spicy peas, potatoes, onions and spices. It also paired nicely with the cilantro chutney.

The navratan korma was delightful. Korma is a classic North Indian/Pakistani cream curry, and the translation of navratan is nine gems, which refers to the fact that the dish typically is prepared with nine different vegetables, fruits and/or nuts. The tomato and cream curry has great garlic, ginger, cumin and chili flavor that coats the beans, broccoli, onion, potato and peas.

The naan was passable though not great. The plain naan was a good tool to pick up sauces and chutneys. The garlic naan was aggressive and would have benefitted from a more judicious use of garlic.

Overall, Curry and Hurry was acceptable. There are far better Indian restaurants in Central Ohio. However, if you're in the neighborhood, the menu provides plenty of options for vegetarians.

Curry & Hurry

Curry and Hurry on Urbanspoon

17 March 2011

This Meatless Week: March 17, 2011

The main event in this meatless week is the Great American Meatout. Of course, there are seven days in this week, so try some of these other options to keep your week both active and vegetarian friendly.

You can kill two birds with one stone at the grand opening of Loving Hut in Reynoldsburg this week. Loving Hut is Central Ohio's newest vegan restaurant, and they have a grand opening Saturday afternoon. You can then join Mercy for Animals members Tuesday and distribute samples of Loving Hut fare in Downtown Columbus.

Or use the Meatout as an opportunity to sample restaurants. Start your week off with green vanilla or Irish cream chocolate cupcakes from Pattycake vegan bakery. Friday could be an opportunity to try the vegetarian menu at DeepWood. Jim at CMH Gourmand has secured Athens' favorite food cart, the Burrito Buggy at Byrne's Pub Saturday, giving Columbus residents who didn't go to Ohio University a chance to sample a tofu and black bean burrito from the approved Bobcat hangover cure wagon. Sunday, grab brunch at Whole World. Dirty Franks offers the Columbus special Monday nights, made up of the Ohioana dog, fries and a Frostop root beer for $5. Ask Alana's to whip you up a tasty vegan or vegetarian degustation Tuesday. Wrap the week up with friends at Hal and Al's, where you can chase vegan dinner with vegan beer.

That sounds like the kind of week that even your friend who makes fun of vegetarianism would enjoy. Anybody want to join me?

15 March 2011


Bodega is a beer bar whose kitchen is very accommodating to vegetarians. Pizza, sandwiches and comfort food staples make up the kitchen accompaniments to Bodega's brewed beverages.

There is a striking contrast at Bodega between the Dine Originals lunch I experienced and the more popular Bodega happy hours. When Bodega is slow (as my visit was), service is brisk and personable. Busier times like happy hour and the $1 grilled cheese Mondays with increased savings, hipsters and pretty people can sometimes see decreased levels of service.

Consider this caveat emptor. Some people enjoy the busier atmosphere and cash savings, yet are willing to wait for these benefits. Others hate fighting the crowds and are willing to pay full price for improved bartender access. Pick your battles based upon personal preference.

The house salad was romaine, red onion, cucumber, tomato and feta in a Champagne vinaigrette. The sweetness of the dressing provides a great contrast to the white pepper notes in the lettuce. In lieu of croutons, the salad was served with toasted bread.

The crispy thin crust pizza was topped with garlic, olive oil, tomatoes, spinach, toasted pine nuts and shredded Manchego cheese. The nutty cheese was melted by the heat of the pizza Steubenville style.

As usual, the draft menu at Bodega was fantastic. Seasonal selections included Troegs Nugget Nectar, Rogue Kells Irish, Stone Sublimely Self Righteous and CBC Arnold IPA.


Bodega on Urbanspoon

11 March 2011

Barcelona - Dine Originals Week

The lunch special for Dine Originals at Barcelona this week gives diners a great opportunity to sample something from one of Columbus' top restaurants for a roll of quarters. A small sandwich, choice of side dishes, bread with olive oil and drink is cheaper than the esteemed half-priced tapas Mondays.

I've previously raved about Barcelona's Dine Originals dinner and an a la carte dinner. Barcelona doesn't feature a fully vegetarian menu, but they always offer delicious choices to vegetarian diners.

All of the sides for Dine Originals week are vegetarian. They include patatas bravas, a pasta salad, samafaina (a stewed eggplant and zucchini dish in the ratatouille family), tomato garlic soup and Spanish potato salad. The patatas bravas are a Spanish classic that is always well executed by Paul Yow's kitchen.

The pasta salad (called ensalada de fideau) is bow tie pasta tossed with olive oil, shallots and piquillo peppers. The peppers give the dish a nice sweet and spicy taste that along with subtle shallot notes gets delivered through the olive oil.

The vegetarian bocadillo, a Spanish sandwich served in crusty bread, is stuffed with grilled portobello mushrooms, peppers and spinach. The top of the sandwich is slathered in a thick layer of flavorful romesco sauce, a Catalan condiment made with almonds, olive oil, garlic and red bell peppers. It gives savory, garlic-driven support to the earthy, smokey 'shrooms.

The lunch special also comes with a choice of non-alcoholic drink. While it might take shelling out a few extra bucks for dessert in order to eat until stuffed, the $10 special is a great introduction to how much fun Spanish food (and particularly Spanish food from Barcelona) can be.

Barcelona Lunch

10 March 2011

This Meatless Week: March 10, 2011

There are still four days of restaurant week left. Make sure to get to one of the Dine Originals restaurants and get a lot of bang for your dining buck.

The Wellness Forum is hosting a gourmet vegan meal with an interactive discussion with Dr. Pam Popper about diet, lifestyle and healthcare tonight at 6 pm. Call 614 841-7700 for details.

07 March 2011

Matt the Miller's Tavern

Matt the Miller's is a Dublin gastropub located in the old Burgundy Room space. The menu consists of high quality sandwiches, flatbread pizzas and comfort-driven staples that are perfectly at home next to something from the nice list of draft and bottled beers.

Since I get to Dublin, Ohio only slightly more often than I visit Dublin, Ireland, I was somewhat oblivious to the number of vegetarian and vegan offerings on the menu at Matt the Miller's. It seems like a vast selection for a pub. Matt the Miller's is as vegetarian friendly as city spots like Tip Top, meaning that diners can visit repeatedly and never repeat a meal or a seasonal beer.

The bar at Matt the Miller's is casual with flat screens tuned to sports programming. The dining room is more upscale but hardly formal.

The Bavarian pretzel bites were delightful. The puffy bites are served with ample portions of sweet mustard and roasted garlic aioli. The garlic aioli is a rich burst of flavor. Chasing pretzel bites with beer in a continuous loop sounds like a simple way to bring a smile to your face.

The house made black bean vegan burger is smoky with a hint of spiciness. It's topped with mushrooms, onions, lettuce, tomato, red pepper and pesto on a whole wheat bun. The veggie burger occupied the upper end of the price spectrum, but it's competitive with any other veggie burger in Central Ohio restaurants including Northstar. The sandwich is topped with a thick cut pickle, and comes with a choice of salad, fries or sweet potato fries.

The flatbread pizzas look fantastic. Meatless options include Margherita, wild mushroom and pear and gorgonzola.

Lunch service was prompt if slightly imperfect. Despite a few drink miscues, lunch was served in a brisk, capable fashion.

Matt the Miller's is worth a trip. The vegetarian friendly pub will make me strongly reconsider my limited visitation policy to Dublin.

Matt the Miller's Tavern

Matt the Miller's Tavern on Urbanspoon

03 March 2011

This Meatless Week: March 3, 2011

Attention diners: It is Dine Originals Week (again)! There are $10, $20 and $30 meal deals all around town March 7-13. Check out the many menus, and plan on eating out seven days worth of lunches and dinners in some of Columbus' finest restaurants.

Outside the Dine Originals restaurants, Dragonfly has announced a format change. Weekdays will feature a casual menu, and weekends will offer a reservation-only super club. They are also planning to re-open On the Fly as a seasonal vegetable market.

On the subject of vegan TV, Cupcake Wars on the Food Network will feature two vegan bakers on Tuesday March 8 at 9 pm EST. Both C'est La V(egan) and Sticky Fingers will compete on the show without animal products. Last year, vegan baker Chloe Coscarelli won an episode of Cupcake Wars. This episode features the first vegan cupcake duel.

01 March 2011

Market 65

Market 65 is a Chipotle-esque take on salad, soup and sandwiches in the old San Francisco Oven spot Downtown. It opened for business February 28. Most ingredients are Ohio sourced, giving Market 65 a cool local focus.

Salads and wraps can be customized. The two vegetarian signature choices are the Hungry Vegan (spinach, spring greens, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, tomatoes and sesame seeds) and the 65 (arugula, roasted vegetables, grilled portobello mushroom, fingerling potatoes and parmesan crisps). There are a wide variety of dressings and a rotating soup du jour.

Much like Chipotle, Market 65 fare is prepared in an assembly line fashion. The veggies were chopped with a mezzaluna behind the counter in view of the customers.

The Hungry Vegan wrap is a classic tossed salad in a thin flour wrap. It is about the size of a medium burrito.

The cream of red pepper soup had a sweet flavor with a bright basil and garlic notes. It was served with whole grain bread.

Prices at Market 65 are inexpensive. There is seating for 50+ in the colorful dining room. Market 65 should be appealing to calorie conscious diners.

Market 65

Market 65 on Urbanspoon